Glasgow Airport secures government funding for hydrogen feasibility study

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A consortium led by Glasgow Airport in the UK and net zero consulting co-developer Ikigai has secured funding from the Scottish government to test the feasibility of a hydrogen production, storage and distribution hub to support zero-emissions flights at the airport.

The Glasgow Airport Hydrogen Innovation Hub project will determine the most efficient, bankable, green hydrogen production, storage and refueling solutions and assess the operational feasibility of a hydrogen hub at the airport. The feasibility study will utilize an AI software solution created by H2GO Power, to compare the relative efficiency of electrolyzer and storage solutions; integrate the optimal modular electrolyzer technology with an on-site solar microgrid, already developed by Ikigai at Glasgow Airport; assess and report how solid-state storage can overcome these challenges, through deployment at the airport’s fuel farm and at a public service station; and design the optimal infrastructure and process for delivery of hydrogen from solid-state storage to gaseous mobile storage and dispensing unit for delivery to hydrogen aircraft and ground-handling equipment.

The project is expected to be completed by early 2024, with the long-term goal of applying this world-first concept to other regional airports to create a UK network of hydrogen-ready airports, including Aberdeen and Southampton.

The funding was confirmed by the First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf and forms part of the Scottish government’s £7m (US$8.6m) Hydrogen Innovation Scheme, which aims to support the development of renewable hydrogen technologies.

According to the consortium, aviation accounts for approximately 2.5% of global CO2 emissions and is one of the hardest-to-abate sectors. The industry is exploring multiple sustainable fuel sources and technologies, with the aim that sustainable aviation fuel will mitigate the majority of aviation’s global emissions in 2050. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that hydrogen aircraft will dominate commercial short-haul aviation by 2040, with 50-100 hydrogen aircraft undertaking up to 90-minute flights being in commercial operation as early as 2035.

The international consortium includes AI and solid-state storage technology company H2GO Power; ZeroAvia, a developer of hydrogen-electric powertrains for aircraft; strategic environmental and engineering consulting Ricardo; system integrator Altrad Babcock; European green fuels retailer OG Clean Fuels; the University of Glasgow; Scottish Water Horizons; and two airlines (easyJet and Loganair).

Jon Matthews, group head of capital investment at AGS Airports, said, “Hydrogen-powered aircraft have the potential to completely revolutionize aviation, particularly on regional and short-haul routes. Airline manufacturers are making tangible progress on zero-emission flights, and as an airport operator it is important that we start to plan for the delivery, storage and generation of hydrogen. This funding will allow us to bring together a diverse group of companies to address the unique challenges of storing hydrogen safely and at scale in an airport environment.”

Helena Anderson, a co-founder of Ikigai, commented, “Hydrogen has a critical role to play in the decarbonization of, in particular, regional aviation. Glasgow’s ‘back to base’ island routes make it the ideal location for hydrogen aviation to take off. This hub will ensure that Glasgow Airport has a safe, secure and cost-efficient green fuel supply as the industry transitions to net zero. Glasgow is the first airport in what we believe will be a world-leading hydrogen aviation network attracting regional investment, jobs, skills and growth.”

Enass Abo-Hamed, CEO at H2GO Power, said, “We are very excited to be working on one of the most exciting projects in the country and helping to take hydrogen tech innovation to the next level, especially with our consortium partners. Designing a state-of-the-art hydrogen hub with advanced AI tools can be transformative in the way we perceive airport operations and air travel, and we are looking forward to quantifying and sharing how impactful that can be.”

Dr Hamish Nichol, head of hydrogen at Ricardo, commented, “We’re excited to be part of another project supporting the transition to zero-emission flights. The aviation industry has set ambitious targets in order to achieve net zero. In the early years, relying on government support will be key to support the aviation sector. Safety is an essential consideration, and our experienced hydrogen safety team will be an important factor in developing the hydrogen ecosystem at Glasgow Airport.”

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